An adaptation of the needle biopsy procedure of Beynen and Katan for human adipose tissue, which yields 2-10 mg adipose samples, is described and evaluated. Micromethods are presented for the analysis of α-tocopherol, cholesterol and fatty acids in each adipose specimen. The needle biopsy procedure, which uses a Vacutainer to create suction, is compared with a punch biopsy method. The needle biopsy is rapid (6 samples/hr), simple and unobjectionable to the subjects, and provides samples with reproducible ratios of cholesterol and α-tocopherol. Unlike the punch biopsy, the needle biopsy reliably obtains specimens with a lipid composition typical of adipocytes. The needle biopsy method is adaptable to nutritional studies of tocopherol and fatty acid metabolism in adipose, and to studies of hazardous compounds stored in adipose. The linoleic acid content of adipose from residents of the West Coast was found to be considerably higher than values reported earlier. The adipose fatty acid data indicate an increase in human adipose linoleate when compared with earlier reports and suggest a trend toward increasing linoleic acid in the American diet.